LOWELL (CBS) – A carjacking came to a crashing end in Lowell Tuesday morning.
Police said it all started when 23-year-old Leonilda Cruz, of Lowell, flagged down a cab and grew angry when the driver said he wouldn’t be able to take her. She punched him, entered the driver’s seat and drove off, dragging the 65-year-old for several feet, according to police.
Taxi driver Jimmy Gauthier told WBZ-TV’s David Robichaud that he briefly tussled with the woman who “weighed 90 pounds” before she got behind the wheel of his cab. He said he held on to the door and was dragged about 10 yards before the taxi hit a utility pole.
“This was an assault on an elderly citizen,” said Gauthier, who has a lot of cuts, scrapes and bruises after the carjacking.
“I got out of it pretty good,” Gauthier said. “There’s something desperate going on in her life to do that, or she’s just too high, one of the two.”
Police said a few minutes after Cruz stole the taxi she crashed it into a dump truck along Rogers Street near Boylston while going about 70 miles per hour. The driver of the truck, who wanted to remain anonymous, told WBZ-TV he saw the taxi swerving out of control in his rearview mirror right before the crash. He said the cab hit the rear of his truck, then crashed into a pole across the street and ended up in the middle of the road.
That’s when the truck driver says the woman then tried to come for his vehicle.
“I got out of the truck to see if she was OK and all of a sudden she ran toward me, tried to jump in my truck, steal my truck,” he said. “Ripped her out of my truck, said ‘get the hell out of here.’”
She then fled on foot but was found by a responding officer, police said. She entered the officer’s cruiser and tried to steal that vehicle, too, police said. But the officer was able to remove her from the cruiser and end the incident.
Cruz’s mother said she suffers from mental illness and has a history of substance abuse.
Cruz is being held without bail and will be arraigned on Wednesday.